Pique n your interest 

Why I'm a civilian

Non-stop war footage on the nightly news gets me thinking about the dangerous lives of soldiers.

And now our own Prime Minister has tabled a plan that would call on the UN to apply military force to put an end to genocides - like the ones taking place in Liberia and the Congo, and that have caused so much death and carnage in Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Iraq over the past 15 years.

The plan is not likely to go through, and if it does it will probably be without the support of the U.S., but that's beside the point. Kudos to Mr. Chretien for sincerely trying to make the world a better place, but the idea that Canada could make a contribution to these peacekeeping efforts is laughable. Our military is small, under-equipped and over-deployed. You can only spread peanut butter so thin if you want to keep your sandwich together, and we were scraping the jar to begin with.

Obviously there are some wonderful people in the military and military reserves in Canada. It takes a special kind of commitment and discipline to become a soldier, and I'm grateful these people exist. Sometimes I wonder how I would have done in the military - and then I remember the three horrific months I spent in the Air Cadets, Toronto Squadron when I was 14 years old.

Rightly guessing that my high school friends would make fun of me, I told them I had swimming lessons every Tuesday.

I didn't join the Cadets alone or willingly, but was talked into it by my friend Darren. His older brother Graham had been with the Air Cadets since he was 13 and learned how to fly a glider and a single-engine plane by the time he was 18.

I thought that sounded pretty cool, even if sneaking out of the house wearing an ugly powder blue shirt, black tie, and khaki French fry cook hat was most definitely not.

My fellow cadets were definitely not what I pictured. Many of the kids were overweight, while others seemed a little too small. Most of them wore glasses.

A couple of the kids were there on probation, part of a plea bargain with a judge who probably thought a little discipline would iron out the hard cases. And then there were the psychos. One guy used to wear ninja booties and claimed to be able to catch arrows, Rambo-style. Another older guy, one of my superiors, liked to grab young recruits by the throat or punch them in the guts.

For the most part, with the exception of a couple of guys and one girl, the cadets were the kids that spent high school getting shoved into lockers, walking hallways with "Kick Me" signs taped to their backs, and answering to nicknames like "Pimples" and "Skidmarks".

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